The Museum of American Armor at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Road, Old Bethpage, is the home to over 30 operational armor vehicles that present our American military heritage, courage and valor under one roof
From the iconic Sherman tank to armored cars that liberated occupied Europe to a classic Lassalle sedan that would have been used by an Admiral attending to business at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the museum also conducts armor experience that allow visitors to join an armored column seeking enemy snipers in the woods surrounding the park.
It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. throughout the year. Donations are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, vets and children. www.museumofamericanarmor.org and on Facebook which is updated daily.
Little known facts about the Museum of American Armor
The Museum of American Armor began with a modest display of a single military truck pulling an anti-aircraft gun at Republic Airport less than a decade ago and quickly grew to become one of the most important armor collections on public display in the Northeast.
When the museum operates its rare gasoline powered Dragon Wagon tank transporter its miles per gallon is measured in the low single digits. Fortunately they don’t need to liberate Paris.
Long Island is home to one of the largest veterans populations in the United States and many families come to the armor museum to discover for the first time that they have heroes in their own homes. Bethpage Federal Credit Union is sponsoring an oral histories program at the armor museum that seeks to capture those stories.
When the museum imported its Sherman tank from Europe it needed approvals from the State Department, the Defense Department, Customs, the Port of New York, the Longshoreman’s Union and the Department of Agriculture. The Aggies wanted all European mud removed before it left the Port of Antwerp.
The Museum of American Armor has become an important part of the economy given the power of heritage tourism in the region. A national survey found that heritage travelers who seek to connect with America’s past spend an average of $994 per trip compared to only $611 for other leisure travelers.
Old Bethpage Village Restoration allows visitors to become immersed in a Long Island of the 1850s so armor museum activities within the park are deliberately designed not to violate that time/space continuum. However, once a year a “Military Timeline” presentation allows visitors to see in one field Americans under arms from the Revolutionary War through the Persian Gulf War.
The armor museum not only has an Israeli tank that survived the savage 1973 Yom Kippur War in the Middle East but it tracked down an Israeli tanker who was part of the battalion that bore the brunt of the surprise attack that breached their defenses along the Suez Canal. Now living in New York, the tanker won the Israeli version of the Medal of Honor and was recently given the chance to drive the tank adjacent to the museum with his family onboard.
Finding repair parts for 70 year old vehicles is a full time job. Museum director Mark Renton had to find and replace the engine on the Sherman tank several years ago and he did it without a manual. No, there is no “check engine light” And yes, it was out of warranty.
Congressman Peter King was recently invited to join living historians portraying WW II GIs on maneuvers outside the museum. Joining the “GIs” on line for a field kitchen serving of Spam (heavily processed meat in a sealed can that was widely used during WW II) he gamely tried it during a live News 12 broadcast and was barely able to swallow it. Keeping his sense of humor he told reporters, “Maybe we should put this on the menu at the Congressional cafeteria…” He did not ask for seconds.